Vive la Différence
Several weeks ago, I attended a coed baby shower. Such couples parties were uncommon when I had my children. Then, it was a women-only event, which (in my experience) most men appreciated. Am I validating gender bias to assume that many men would rather, say, watch sports than check out the details of newborn fashion while nibbling on rattle-shaped cookies and chatting about the pros and cons of breastfeeding? Maybe.
Today it seems many people are hypersensitive about being inclusive, specifically when gender is involved. To my point, I just spotted this USA Today headline: “Lawsuit seeks to force all-male fraternities at Yale to allow women.” As my husband and I often joke: Be careful what you wish for! We typically say this in response to one of our grown children bringing home a new boyfriend/girlfriend—one who promises to outshine the previous one. But I think our gag applies here as well.
Here’s what I think of the gender egalitarianism debate: Men and women are not the same, and that’s OK! Several characteristics set us apart. Men tend to be physically stronger, while women often cultivate emotional verve. You get the idea. I believe God made us different for a reason—we’re meant to complement each other.
In the work world, the variancesbetween manhood and womanhood tend to fall under the classification of superior or inferior. In reality, and in accordance with God’s plan, the differences reflect our internal dispositions or inclinations—those that God has lovingly written on our hearts. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops clarifies further: “Men and women are equal in dignity and…are different from one another in important ways, including in their bodies and how they relate to each other and to the world.” It’s within the context of these very differences that we form the traditional marital bond.
Saint John Paul II speaks to this mutuality and explains that man and woman exist not only “side by side or together, but…one for the other” (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women [Mulieris Dignitatem], 7). In On Love in the Family (Amoris Laetitia), Pope Francis reinforces the importance of this bond, saying: “The joy of love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church” (AL 1).
Catholic teachings such as these on love, marriage, and sexuality encourage us to stay the course of promulgating our faith. There’s no need to complicate things, especially when sticking to God’s plan works just fine.